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EPA awards Water Research Foundation $1 million grant

Staff writer |
The Water Research Foundation (WRF) has been awarded a $1 million grant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create water quality strategies for the treatment of drinking water in the event of a drought or other natural hazards.

The project will seek to provide water utilities and local government officials with the information needed to maintain a level of quality and availability for drinking water that is consistent with regulatory and public health protection goals in cases of extreme climate events.

Drought due to climate change and other extreme events such as wildfire and floods can affect drinking water in multiple ways. When these natural disasters occur, the flow of sediment in watersheds can be significantly altered to a degree that impacts the way utilities must treat the water in order to meet regulatory standards.

Consequently, prolonged drought conditions make it difficult to assess the future availability of source water, which also hinders a water utility’s ability to make informed decisions throughout the water treatment process.

In partnership with a team of researchers from University of Colorado – Boulder, WRF will develop water quality strategies for utilities to help work against some of these present challenges by studying the flow of sediment downstream to water treatment facilities and how that transportation process is impacted in the event of a natural hazard.

Additionally, statistical tools will be created to help understand the threshold variability of key water quality parameters in order to quantify the risks of these extreme scenarios.

The research project will include participation from municipal utilities across the United States. The Principal Investigator for the project will be Balaji Rajagopalan, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering (CEAE) at CU-Boulder.

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